Dot-To-Dot has made a name for itself as a budget festival with a budget line-up, and the 2011 edition of the festival, held across a number of venues in three cities, sticks to this tradition. With an advance ticket price of £25 for a full day and night of music it is one of the least taxing 'name' festivals in the country, however it is also one of the least inspiring, and sees a continuation of the ever dwindling line-up quality that has plagued Dot-To-Dot for the last few years.
Hurts are the only band that could realistically headline the largest venues used for the festival, with Guillemots and We Are Scientists still clutching to reputations earned many moons ago. Both remain energetic live bands that will no doubt provide entertaining sets, but their status as two of the days main draws highlight the lack of ambition of the event.
An interesting undercard of up-and-coming artists is always the backbone of Dot-To-Dot, and although this has experienced a similar decline in quality there are still many attractions. Montreal, Quebec's 'Braids' recently played their first shows in the country supporting The Antlers and dazzled with a hallucinogenic haze of smouldering electronics driven by Raphaelle Standell-Preston's playful whisper-quiet coos. Fans of Animal Collective and A Sunny Day In Glasgow will find joy in their début album "Native Speaker", and even more so in the organic delight of their live show.
Paramount Styles's rolling Americana, a world away from lead vocalist Scott McCloud's previous project Girls Against Boys, offers an easy entry into the days proceedings, and a contrast to the caterwauling glitter-punk of Dananananakroyd that shows there is still a wealth of variety present across the line-up.
Elsewhere, the unfortunately named Wolf Gang (no relation to blog-darlings OFWGKTA), have started to make waves with a brand of NME friendly indie rock that would see them sit as a perfect support for headliners Hurts and the ridiculously named Nottingham natives SWIMMInG have perfected a blend of restrained and knowingly epic post-pop that has seen them gain unexpected bedfellows live review
The festival has geared itself further to giving a platform in 2011, whether this is a genuine attempt at supporting the local music scene or merely a cost-saving exercise. Spotlight Kid are the pick of the Nottingham-only offerings, one of the only 'shoegaze' artists truly breathing new life into the increasingly tired template, whilst Frontiers are a strong shout for big things in the future. Meanwhile, in Bristol SJ Esau is the pick of the bunch, someone who should have long outgrown the stigma of being a promising long-artist after his acclaimed debút on Anticon.
When day becomes night the festival has more treasures to offer, with the gritty future-grime of Becoming Real and Hyetal's blissed out take on dubstep giving sufficient reason to stay past the midnight hours. That the bumped-up price of seven drinks can easily eclipse the admission fee is a minor concern.
Whilst Dot-To-Dot may not put on much of a challenge to more established festivals that use a similar set-up like The Camden Crawl, Live At Leeds or The Great Escape there are (just) enough draws across the days proceedings to maintain interest, and to maintain its reputation as offering superb value for money.